In a step forward for a Swedish nurse’s search for her biological mother, a metropolitan magistrate has ordered an inquiry into her complaint against Shraddhanand Mahilashram in Matunga, from where she was allegedly illegally adopted in 1978.
Saudamini alias Rebecka Arnes, 36, born in India and adopted and raised by a Swedish couple, has been looking for her biological mother for about six years. Her search led her to the Bombay High Court in 2011 seeking its help to get more information about her mother, who is believed to have surrendered her as a two-day-old baby at the ashram.
Arnes’s petition filed through lawyer Pradeep Havnur, however, annexed with it an email exchange between her and Tushar Gandhi, the great grandson of the Mahatma, whose help she sought in the search for her mother. Arnes claimed that her adoption was facilitated by Gandhi’s parents Arun and Sunanda, who helped a number of Swedish couples adopt Indian children before themselves migrating to the US. Arnes said she sought the help of Tushar as he lived in Mumbai.
Tushar, Arnes alleged, however, refused to cooperate and sent nasty emails to her. He asked her not to bother him or the doctors at the Parle Nursing Home, where Arnes was born.
In one reply to Arnes’s email, Gandhi wrote on January 29, 2010: “I don’t think your biological father was a person able to live up to his responsibilities that’s why he abandoned your mother after having sex with her, maybe repeatedly, and left her with an unwanted pregnancy. Generally mothers love their babies from the time they conceive but your mother cursed every minute that you were growing in her.”
Tushar had earlier said the emails may have been insensitive but he was driven to the end of his wits as it is not possible to find a woman after 30 years. He said his tone may have been cruel but his intention was to avoid further trauma to Arnes. He also said he had learnt from other Swedish families known to him that Arnes had had a troubled past. Tushar was not a respondent in Arnes’s case.
Arnes, a resident of Höör in Sweden, had urged the court to order action against the ashram for not disclosing the identity of her biological mother. The High Court had in April 2012 said she could file a private complaint against the institution before a magistrate.
Following a complaint filed by Arnes, jointly with her adoptive mother Eva Lindgren and Pune-based child rights activist Anjali Pawar, a Kurla metropolitan magistrate directed senior inspector of the Matunga police station to investigate the matter and submit a report in three months. The police has, however, been asked not to make arrests without the court’s permission.
“Considering the allegations, I am of the view that detailed investigation on the complaint of the complainant is necessary,” judge A S Salgar wrote in the order of January 9.
In her complaint against the ashram, Arnes has alleged offences under the Indian Penal Code including abetting offences abroad, kidnapping and removal from lawful custody, forgery of official records and criminal conspiracy.